Panos Cosmatos (director)
12 October 2018 (released)
14 October 2018
So where to start with the much-anticipated Mandy? There’s plenty of places: the actors, the director, the build-up (hype), the style…the film?
Told over three chapters from the off it is absolutely clear how much in love Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) are, as they eat, talk, watch telly and in bed. It’s idyllic with Mandy painting, reading books working at a local store, and Red as a lumberjack.
Walking home one day Mandy catches the eye of Jeremiah (Linus Roache) the leader of a Manson type hippy group. He’s transfixed buy her and asks a group of hellish bikers dressed in leather, spikes and your everyday S&M gear to take kidnap Mandy. From here on in there’s only one way to go.
Saying too much will be spoiling it though on the face of it there’s not really much to Mandy’s plot. Dialogue is scant – Cage barely says a word but doesn’t need to and is his best performance for sometime - and it is surprisingly slow. So, it’s down to the visuals and the director to create an ambience that takes things forward. The visuals are glorious in the gaucheness of it all with hellish red hues in curling mists and fogs; at times you could be in one of William Blake’s infernal paintings. The bikers’ attire brings to mind Clive Barker’s Cenobites, though lacking their malign elegance.
It does look as if writer and director Panos Cosmatos was working his way through the whole horror/ arthouse genre as he draws from the cheap and sleazy grindhouse movies of the 70’s and 80’s, and the more grandiose art-house elements with pacing and animated sequences.
It’s a disquieting film though oddly soothing, the ground brilliantly primed by using King Crimson’s Starless as the theme and the score by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson is perfect. Even when the violence comes it doesn’t look incongruous or deflect from the otherworldly tone of the work.